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Bulldog Grit

From American Bulldog: Stories, Facts, & Legends

By Lem Miller

As we made our way home, I saw a huge hog on the edge of another swamp.  I told my friend, Dan, "We can catch him if you want him."

He asked, "Alive?"

"Live!", I said.

Joshua said, "Let's catch him, Dad."

We jumped out of the truck, and I asked Joshua to turn Caleb loose.   When Caleb sailed out of the back of the truck, I hollered, "Whoop-go-ahead!"

He headed toward the swamp and suddenly got a glimpse of the hog, and the hog (a record-book boar) got a glimpse of Caleb.   Oh, the race was on.

They hit the water and as Caleb was closing the gap, the hog made it to a little island and turned to face Caleb.   Caleb hit him head on, and the boar hog stuck one of his ivory knives right through the cut vest into the point of Caleb's shoulder.   That dog hit the ground like you'd hit him between the eyes with a hammer.

Big game hunters know that a perfectly placed shot into the point of the shoulder will drop any animal in his tracks.   I watched it happen.   My first thought was, "Oh, no, that hog has cut 'im down!"   My heart jumped to my throat, it seemed.   I'm still running.   Now I'm praying.   My goal, my desire, is to help my dog.

Caleb tries to get up, wobbles and falls again, again and again.   Over and over, he tries to stand, so simple to do normally, but now, so hard to achieve.

On the island, Caleb is flopping around like a fish out of water.   The hog breaks and runs to the edge of the swamp and begins to swim out with Joshua close behind trying to get to our dog.   My friends, Dan and Guy, were making their way to the swamp to try to help.   Then suddenly, something happened as I watched in disbelief -- something marvelous, exciting and exhilarating!

I watched as Caleb, although he was still trying to stand, still trying to get his equilibrium, even in his private struggle, Caleb never took his eyes off the swimming hog.   He flopped around until he got off the island, and back into the water.   I thought, he'll drown if we don't get to him.   But, there was something unseen to the natural eye.   Something deep inside that bulldog that would go undetected unless seen in action.   It was a warrior's mentality, a desire, a craving, an intense longing, something that can't be explained, yet passed down from generation to generation in the greatest breed of dog ever developed -- BULLDOG GRIT!   making the statement loud and clear, "Never give up!"

Joshua and I literally stopped in our tracks as we watched what our forefathers had also seen and recognized hundreds of years before, and what for many years, has been bred, no doubt, into every breed of dog that has gained a reputation of being courageous.   Joshua and I watched nervously, yet proudly, as ol' fashioned Bulldog tenacity began to swim the swamp.   I turned to Joshua and said, "Do you believe that?"

Caleb, never losing sight of the hog, swam after him.   I yelled to Dan and Guy, "Turn the other dogs out!"

So they ran back to the truck.   Again, the race was on.

Caleb, who couldn't stand on his own feet, found a way to swim and was now closing on the hog.   I started to laugh, or maybe it was cry.   It was like watching a world class athlete give a gold-medal performance.

As I write, the thought of Eric Little, the great gold medal sprinter of the 1922 Olympics comes to mind.   Eric's sister rebuked him for spending so much time running and racing in track meets, after all, Eric was called by God to be a missionary to China.

Feeling her disappointment he said, "Sis, I know God called me for a purpose, but He also made me fast, and when I run, I feel His pleasure."

Somehow I felt that even tho' Caleb had been wounded in battle, he even now in pain, still felt pleasure in pursuit.   It helped me to realize that in this ol' Southern Bulldog, there was something in him that caused him to be a hundred times bigger on the inside, than he was on the outside.

Joshua got excited and began to shout, "Whoop-go-ahead, catch 'im boy!"

That bulldog swam the boar down, swam along side and swallowed an ear.   It seemed as if Caleb just closed his eyes, and went to sleep.   Locked on the hog's ear, the fight was on.

Each time the hog would spin to try to get to Caleb, that bulldog just laid back on the side of the big boar, and was safely out of the way of the ivory tusks that just minutes before had knocked him all but out.   

'Round and 'round they went.   By now, I was issuing instructions to Joshua.

"Josh, I'll grab the hog as soon as I have control, you get Caleb."

I waded up behind the fight, reached down under the black swamp water and found the hog's rear legs.   As I grabbed hold and lifted, I shouted, "I've got 'im!"

Dan and Guy had turned everything out when they got to the truck.

Now I'm holding a bad, wild boar, with a swamp full of dogs, trying to catch a boar that's already caught.   I didn't want the hog caught again, too many dogs, they'd drown the hog.   "Hurry, Dan!", I shouted.

As Dan and Guy arrived, they began to catch dogs.   "Dad, what do you want me to do?" Joshua asked.   "Take Caleb back to the truck, son, get the vest off of him, and see how bad he's hurt."

"What about you and the hog?" he asked.   (Joshua was really worried about me because I had recently had a heat stroke on a hog hunt.)

"I'm okay, I'll swim the hog out."

I asked Guy to catch Cowboy, the other bulldog, and not to worry about the bay dogs, I could make them leave the hog alone.   Once back to dry land, I quickly tied the hog and checked on Caleb.

As I suspected, the hog had stabbed him in the point of the shoulder and hit the paralyzing nerve center perfectly.   Thank God for sense enough to hunt my bulldogs with cut vests.   Because of the vest, the hog could not rip and cut my dog, only puncture.   I gave Caleb some antibiotic, stapled his wound closed, then gave him a pat and tried to explain that he had earned himself another high-dollar sack of dog food!

Dan and Guy bought two pups out of Caleb that day, Joshua was grinning from ear to ear.   I took time to give thanks as I hugged my son.   He smiled and said, "Dad, we've made another memory."